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Reader comments closed for the weekend

Friday, Jan 30, 2009

* This final burst of bile will do it for the week…


There’s a fortune inside your head
All you touch turns to lead
You think you might just crawl back in bed
With the fortune inside your head
You know you’re just a mama’s boy
Positively unemployed
So misunderstood
So misunderstood

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


More signs of the changing times

Friday, Jan 30, 2009

* Several state employees have forwarded me a letter they received from Gov. Pat Quinn…

Dear State Employees,

I want to express my sincere thanks and appreciation for your exceptional work during this difficult time. The everyday workers of state government deserve a salute - because you are the true embodiment of public service.

As your governor, I pledge an open and fair state government worthy of being called the Land of Lincoln. I vow to restore your faith in government and will work tirelessly everyday to make you proud to be a citizen and employee of this great state.

In the coming days, we will face some tough choices. I am confident that by working together we will meet these challenges to emerge a much stronger and vibrant state.

I believe our state’s best days are ahead. I welcome your help and support as we work together in behalf of the people of Illinois.

That’s quite a stark departure from the recent past. Rod Blagojevich regularly expressed his disdain for state employees. The workers who have sent me the e-mail were astonished and quite overjoyed at the sentiment expressed by Quinn.

* A few minutes ago, I received this press release from AFSCME…

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn will speak to members of the largest union of state employees, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 31, at the union’s annual legislative conference tomorrow (Saturday, Jan. 31) morning in Springfield.

AFSCME endorsed Blagojevich in 2002, but the union had a stormy relationship with him ever since. I’ll bet Quinn gets a nice reception tomorrow.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


More duplicity

Friday, Jan 30, 2009

* When the cameras were on, Rod Blagojevich said he’d never resign, and wouldn’t even consider the matter. It was a different story when the cameras were off, however

Contrary to public statements he’s made, Rod Blagojevich contemplated resigning as governor shortly before the Illinois Senate voted to boot him from office.

“He wanted to step aside, but he didn’t reach out to anybody” in state government, Blagojevich’s estranged father-in-law, Ald. Dick Mell (33rd), told the Chicago Sun-Times today in his first public comments since Blagojevich’s impeachment conviction.

Mell was reacting to a report in the Capitol Fax newsletter this morning that quoted anonymous sources saying that on Thursday — after the governor made his closing argument to the Senate in Springfield — Mell called Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) to relay a message that Blagojevich wanted to resign before a vote to oust him could be held.

Actually, I wrote that an “official close to Senate President John Cullerton” was contacted. [Adding: The Sun-Times has corrected its copy to reflect what I wrote. Thanks much to them.]

And I stand by my story.

* But the broader point is that after the governor said this to the Senate yesterday…

“Now, if I felt I did something wrong, I would have resigned in December. If I felt I had violated a law, I would meet my responsibilities, I would have resigned in December. I wouldn’t put my family through this, I wouldn’t put you through this and, most importantly, I wouldn’t put people, the people of Illinois, through this. But I didn’t resign then and I’m not resigning now because I have done nothing wrong.”

And then told reporters this last night

During a news conference outside his Northwest Side house after the 59-0 impeachment vote, Blagojevich was asked point-blank if he’d considered resigning. “No, I did not,” he replied.

When the cameras were off, he not only thought about resigning, he offered it up.

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      


De-Rodding begins at Tollway *** UPDATED x1 ***

Friday, Jan 30, 2009

* I still say that one of those signs ought to be pulled down by an Illinois National Guard tank, but this is a good start

The 2-foot high “Rod R. Blagojevich, Governor” title displayed at the Bolingbrook toll plaza vanished from sight today, replaced by the utilitarian “Boughton Rd Plaza 89.”

“You’re taking down the sign?” a passing driver called out to assembled Illinois Tollway officials and media. “No way!” he added, giving a thumb’s up signal.

A symphony of truck horns blasting and cars tooting approval accompanied two workers atop an aerial lift who fastened three blue, aluminum panels over the former governor’s name.

In all, 32 signs at 22 plazas will be Blagojevich-less by Monday, tollway spokeswoman Joelle McGinnis said. The total cost of the overlays is $15,000.

A small price to pay to begin dismantling the former governor’s bizarre attempt to create a cult of personality.

*** UPDATE *** CBS2 has video. Click here to watch it.

- Posted by Rich Miller   43 Comments      


Quinn wants September primary

Friday, Jan 30, 2009

* They might move the primary back to March, where it once was, but political types have always been leery of a late-year primary. It’s just a whole lot easier to control turnout in the early months…

Gov. Pat Quinn said today he wants state lawmakers to push back the state’s primary election from February to September in an effort to shorten the campaign season.

Standing outside his Capitol office, Quinn said the state’s lengthy campaign season breeds corruption because of the constant pressure for candidates to raise money.

“This should be a year of reform, a year of governance,” Quinn said. “We don’t need perpetual campaigns and perpetual campaign fund raising in Illinois.” […]

Lawmakers moved the primary from March to February in 2007 in an effort to boost Barack Obama’s efforts to get to the White House. Other states, including New York, shorten the time between the primary and general election with the idea of cutting down the length of campaign season.

Thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   65 Comments      


Poll: Repubs trailing Dems in US Senate race

Friday, Jan 30, 2009

* We have a new statewide poll from Research 2000. The poll was conducted 1/26-28 for Daily Kos, a Democratic website. R2K does good work, however, so don’t rule out these numbers. 600 likely voters. MoE +/-4% for the general election and +/-5% for party primary questions.

Democratic Primary

Burris 26
Schakowsky 12
Giannoulias 11
Undecided 51

Lots of room for movement by anybody. As Dan Hynes found out during his 2004 US Senate bid, down-ballot constitutionals are just not well known in Illinois. That may help explain Giannoulias’s low showing. An Obama endorsement would help immeasurably, but we just don’t know yet what the big guy is gonna do.

More…

Favorable/Unfavorable/No opinion

Burris 35/35/30
Schakowsky 33/10/57
Giannoulias 36/15/49

Even-Steven favorable/unfavorable for Burris is not a good thing.

* Now, onto the Republican primary…

Kirk 27
Roskam 17
Undecided 56

And…

Favorable/Unfavorable/No opinion

Kirk 37/41/22
Roskam 19/23/58

Quite high unfavorables for Kirk. Still, something to look at further.

…Adding… Strange that more people have an opinion of Kirk than of Burris.

* General election head-to-heads…

Burris (D) 37
Kirk (R) 30

Burris (D) 38
Roskam (R) 25

Schakowsky (D) 36
Kirk (R) 30

Schakowsky (D) 37
Roskam (R) 25

Giannoulias (D) 38
Kirk (R) 30

Giannoulias (D) 38
Roskam (R) 25

These are basic hardcore party ID numbers at this point, with Kirk doing a tiny bit better than Roskam on that front. But it goes to show you that even with the Blagojevich craziness, the uproar over the Burris appointment and the refusal to hold a special election, the Republicans have an uphill climb in this state.

- Posted by Rich Miller   56 Comments      


Question of the day

Friday, Jan 30, 2009

* For the sake of argument, let’s say you know somebody who is writing a book about Rod Blagojevich. What title would you suggest?

Let’s keep it real, by the way. Good suggestions would be appreciated.

- Posted by Rich Miller   217 Comments      


Quinn the Governor *** UPDATED x2 ***

Friday, Jan 30, 2009

*** UPDATE *** From ABC7’s Twitter page we have some updates on the Quinn presser

Gov. Quinn says he will return to Chicago this morning and meet this afternoon with all State Constitutional officers.

Gov. Quinn officially signing his first executive order formally establishing the “Illinois Reform Commission”

*** UPDATE 2 *** From the Tribune

Newly minted Gov. Pat Quinn’s first executive order will be to establish the Illinois Reform Commission as an official state body under the governor’s office, he said this morning.

Quinn set up the commission before former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s impeachment and conviction. But he said today that his executive order is intended to send a message to the people of Illinois “that we understand integrity is No. 1 in the Land of Lincoln.”

“Today is a beginning, a start,” he said at a press conference in Springfield. “We are going to fumigate state government from top to bottom to make sure there’s no corruption.”

The commission will have recommendations ready within 100 days, he said.

From WBEZ’s 848 Twitter

Just called Quinn’s office–they answered “Lieutenant Governor Pat Qu…Governor Quinn’s office! GOVERNOR Quinn!”

It’ll take a while to get used to that, I’m sure.

[ *** End of Updates *** ]

* Gov. Quinn is holding a press conference as I write this. He promised a major announcement today. Details to follow, but he’s been hitting the radio circuit today

Newly minted Gov. Pat Quinn ducked a question about whether he will run for the office in 2010 but said he will push for a constitutional amendment that would give voters the ability to recall elected officials.

“I believe in recall, have for 33 years,” he told WGN radio host John Williams, noting that former Gov. Rod Blagojevich had opposed the idea. He said he was hopeful of getting a measure on a statewide ballot in the near future.

As for whether he would seek election to the post to which he was elevated Thursday with the impeachment conviction of his predecessor, Quinn said: “I don’t think we need a lot of politics. There’s plenty of time for running for office next year. This has to be a year of reform.”

* From his appearance on Don & Roma

Quinn said he would be busy on his first full day as governor and that his job is to “mend the flaws” in state government. He pledged to work with lawmakers and other state officials as a team to get the job done.

* The full text of his press conference last night is here

Q: What about exempt state employees, two or three thousand, do they need to worry now? Will you review everybody?

A: Yeah, I think…if you’re an employee, public or private, you’re always going to be under review. If you’re not doing a good job, then you should be, you know, concerned. But if you are doing a good job, being diligent, that’s what we’re looking for.

Q: Will you review everybody, or are there certain classes of folks that you think will be gone?

A: I haven’t looked at any of that, but I think they’ll be a thorough review over the next month or two to make sure that state government works for the people who pay the taxes. […]

Q: Let’s talk about your frugality. That’s something you’re proud of, isn’t it?

A: Well, I am proud of being frugal, I’m a VIP member at Super 8 (shows card to laughter) and I moved up from Motel 6. I think being frugal is useful, but I am very generous, I think everybody will tell you that I’m generous to a fault. […]

Q: Did you make a mistake by not speaking out in 2006?

A: I was a pretty loud speaker for recall. I was for recall for 33 years. I think this may be the moment for recall.

* Related…

*Blagojevich nightmare over; Quinn upbeat

* Blagojevich ousted as Ill. gov.; Quinn sworn in

* Blagojevich Removed, Quinn Takes Over

* Quinn becomes new Ill. governor

* ‘The ordeal is over’: Pat Quinn starts first full day as governor

* Pat Quinn’s long, surprising rise to governor

* Governor Quinn steps in

* Meet Gov. Pat Quinn

* Quinn promises a new style of leadership

* New Illinois governor is grass-roots crusader

* With populist image, what will Quinn’s term be like?

* Gov. Quinn’s chance to make a mark

* Gov. Quinn gets stimulus control

* Quinn gets down to business as Illinois governor

* Hard work begins for Gov. Quinn

* Gov. Quinn’s priorities

* Quinn expected to reopen parks, address conservation issues

* Gov. Quinn wants to reopen state parks, review Pontiac prison status

* Patrick Quinn asking voters to back him with prayers

* Quinn to face Southland issues

* Quinn ‘no stranger to Peoria’

* Mayors pin hopes on Quinn: Restore pride, govern openly

* Quotables: Central Illinois reacts to Gov. Quinn

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      


Congressman Jackson drops $100K on legal bills

Friday, Jan 30, 2009

* Perhaps we shouldn’t make too much of this, but $100,000 sure seems an awful lot of legal bills for a guy who says he’s really a whistleblower

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) spent $100,000 on legal expenses one week after it became clear that he was listed in Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s (D) arrest documents as “Senate Candidate No. 5,” according to Federal Election Commission documents.

Jackson paid Chicago attorney James Montgomery $100,000 from his campaign account in one lump-sum payment on Dec. 18. The payment represents a very large amount — nearly one-tenth of what Jackson raised last cycle.

Background

Jackson is widely believed to be “Senate Candidate No. 5,” who is mentioned in Blagojevich’s arrest documents.

Transcripts indicate the former two-term governor said an “emissary” for “Senate Candidate No. 5″ had promised to raise $1 million for Blagojevich if the candidate was appointed to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama following his victory in the U.S. presidential election.

“I never sent a message or an emissary to the governor to make an offer, plead my case or propose a deal about a U.S. Senate seat, period,” Jackson said at the time.

- Posted by Rich Miller   10 Comments      


Rearview Mirror

Friday, Jan 30, 2009

* This quote from today’s New York Times probably sums up Rod Blagojevich’s bizarre attempts at denial better than anything I’ve ever seen…

“We should have been more selfish, not selfless,” he said. “It sounds probably perverse for me to say that based on what some people are saying about me. But it’s true. My family, we didn’t take advantage of all these things that people do.”

The worst part is the NY Times printed that quote without any context.

* Carol Marin looks at an ironic nexus

This morning, Rod Blagojevich embarks on a new life. He is a private citizen now, a man with time on his hands.

Meanwhile, another guy, one who gave young Rod his first job out of law school, is beginning his own new chapter. He’s about to be sent up the river to do some time.

That other guy is Eddie Vrdolyak.

“I don’t have to tell you what they say. You guys are in politics. You know what we have to do to go out and run and run elections . . . those are conversations . . . all of us in politics do in order to run campaigns and try to win elections.”

Those quotes from Blagojevich speech yesterday gently sums up the Vrdolyak style of governance. The harsh reality is that Blagojevich took everything that wasn’t nailed down.

* And this is a fitting description

“He never was really willing to be a governor,” state Rep. Julie Hamos (D- Evanston) said. “He was kind of a showman who came up with ideas at press conferences and blasted away if it never happened.”

* As Gov. Quinn urged yesterday, let’s put this clown in our rearview mirror…

* Obama says Ill. was crippled by Blagojevich

* As his time in office dwindles, Blagojevich expunges criminal records of former drug dealer and real estate mogul

* Health care association favored Blagojevich

* Blagojevich grants clemency to 2 on last day

* Money Troubles Mount For Blagojevich

* Ousted governor says he’ll look for new job

* Elected on a call for reform, defiant to the end, now jobless

* A politician’s rise, hard fall

* The FamilyCare controversy Blagojevich forget to mention

* Quotables: State officials sound off on Blagojevich

* Unfiltered: Illinois Senate President John Cullerton

* Unfiltered: Sen. Christine Radogno

* Unfiltered: Sen. Ricky Hendon

* Unfiltered: Blagojevich Responds to Impeachment, Thanks Supporters

* Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich thrown out of office

* Senate votes unanimously

* Senate Unanimously Votes Blagojevich’s “Political Death Sentence”

* Suburban lawmakers voted without reservations

* ‘Ordeal’ comes to an end as Blagojevich removed

* The end of an hair-a: That was the easy part

* Blagojevich’s final act — a rerun — is fitting

* Highlights of Blagojevich’s time in office

* Blagojevich firing came from flouting two sets of bosses

* The tapes, stupid

* Blagojevich says he’s saddened by ouster

* Blagojevich’s sad denial tour ends predictably

* Blagojevich has let us all down

* Blagojevich farewell takes trappings of lonely campaign

* Blago performance mesmerizing but unconvincing

* Blagojevich: ‘I never ever intended to violate any law’

* Governor’s 43 minutes of silence

* Illinoisans happy to see Blagojevich go

* Rock River Valley residents think former gov’s actions ‘shameful’

* We grew tired of Blagojevich’s act years ago

* A well-deserved end to Blagojevich’s tenure

* Ex-governor gets little sympathy downstate

* Governor no media darling, just a menace

* Blago’s ouster in state’s best interest

* New day dawns for Illinois with Blagojevich gone

* Blagojevich grandstanding to the end

* AND NOW…

* ‘One Day at a Time, Sweet Jesus’

* Blago could get $64K state pension

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      


Morning Shorts

Friday, Jan 30, 2009

* Economy likely shrank at fastest clip since ‘82

* Many without food, water rush to shelters’ warmth

* Potential Olympic venues get approval of sport federations

* Lawmakers make new pitch for FutureGen

* Stimulus could bring more than road funding to Rock River Valley

* Fertility Centers of Illinois’ treatments threatened by HMO Illinois contract dispute

* Lawsuit on Pontiac prison closure ‘indefinitely postponed’

* Wind farms take shape in Illinois fields

* Illinois tollway asked to take over proposed Prairie Parkway

The controversial highway has an $1 billion price tag and would stretch 37 miles through Kane and Kendall Counties—from the Reagan Memorial Tollway (Interstate Highway 88) near Kaneville to Interstate Highway 80 in Grundy County.

* Tollway urged to take over Prairie Parkway

* Tollway could bring customer call center home

* Organizer training has Chicago foundation dating to 1940s

- Posted by Mike Murray   1 Comment      


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Friday, Jan 30, 2009

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Photo of the day

Friday, Jan 30, 2009

* As you might imagine, I’m running a little late today. But here’s something to talk about while I try to catch up…

- Posted by Rich Miller   52 Comments      


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